Research project – University of Copenhagen

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Research project

Land management system, urban governance and leadership: the future of urban tanzania

Background and project focus

In Tanzania, like in many other African countries, urbanization is a burning issue not only because of its social, political, cultural and economic significance but also because of the challenges of achieving sustainable development. The issue of sustainable urban development in Tanzania is of central importance since it is essential for economic growth, with the associated forward and backward linkages, and for meeting both the present and future needs of the increasingly urban society.

This is a change in thinking from the old attitude of minimal emphasis on urbanization. The implications arising from the old attitude to urban communities were clearly noted by Ngware and Kironde (2000) and included: first, urban communities were considered to be evil and urbanization was to be resisted in the light of the high rates of migration from rural to urban areas; and second, governments conceived policies that were anti-urbanization, such as those aimed at repatriating people back to, or at least preventing them from leaving, rural areas combined with doing little or nothing about the development of urban areas.

The promotion of sustainable urban development is thus necessary today in Tanzania and as UN-Habitat has highlighted, the process is highly dependent upon efficient land management. The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS) stresses the need for member states including Tanzania to adopt effective land strategies because they are the basis of all human activities, a source of livelihoods and the engine for attaining sustainable urban development.

Three key concepts are central to the establishment of effective urban land strategies: land management, governance and leadership. First, the land management system operating in the country determines the issues of land provision, accessibility, and demand and use of land by urban residents for their activities. Second, governance is important because of the complex set of vertical and horizontal relations among different actors in the urbanization process and its management, particularly the role of community based organizations. As land in Tanzania is an asset owned collectively, good governance in the administration of land as a collective asset is central. Third, the concept of leadership is an essential aspect of land management and governance in urban areas. Effective leadership of the land management system and of actors engaged in urban governance should result in an efficient land supply, distribution and utilization which in turn will lead to sustainable urban development.

This important interrelationship of the three concepts has been incorporated into a number of legislations and policies put in place by the local and central governments in Tanzania that guide the management of urban development in general and land development in particular. The Land Policy is one such policy passed in 1995 which highlights the interrelated form of urban governance, leadership and land management. The National Human Settlements Development Policy of 2000 clearly emphasizes the issue of governance and leadership to be considered in planning, development and management of human settlements in urban and rural areas. The legislations that guide land use and tenure also take into account governance and leadership issues. The Land Act 1999, for example, demands that the principle of participation of various actors and ethics of leadership have to be followed in its implementation to ensure progressive land tenure and land use. Furthermore, recent legislation espousing community participation in land use and planning include the Land Use Planning Act 2007 and the Urban Planning Act 2007 (Rwechungura, 2009).

As Tanzania is urbanizing at a rapid rate (the urban population increased at a rate of 10% per annum from 1980 to 1997), the country's urban areas are facing enormous challenges. This is despite the existence of reforms of urban development which recognize the link between land management, governance and leadership. What is disturbing is that the difficulties faced by the large urban centres seem to be being replicated in the emerging urban centres of the country despite the latter being blessed with the opportunity to do things differently. This phenomenon prompts the proposed research project with the overall objectives of:

1. Finding out why and to what extent the interlinkages between the dynamics of the land management system, urban governance and leadership are failing to meet the present needs of urban Tanzania.

2. Developing mechanisms/ways to mitigate the challenges faced by the land management system, urban governance and leadership to meet the needs of the present and future urban Tanzania.

The research project has the following specific objectives of:

  • Examining the existing urban land management system of Tanzania in order to identify its strengths and limitations in the process of land delivery.
  • Providing knowledge on theories and concepts as well as flexible, affordable and sustainable methods of land management which can be used to deliver land in the present and future cities and in the anticipated satellite towns.
  • Finding out the existing approaches to and practices of urban governance in Tanzania.
  • Exploring the opportunities for established urban centres and fast growing townships to learn from each other.
  • Finding out how local leaders perceive and understand the concepts of leadership and governance in urban Tanzania.
  • Examining the implications of different conceptions of leadership on urban governance and land management in Tanzania.